The Coolest Movie Blockbusters of Summer 2014

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(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

By Vanessa Payes

Angelenos celebrate their summers with backyard barbecues, beach bummin’, and big budget movies.

There’s no shortage of fantasy flicks, dystopian drama, sci-fi thrills, super heroes, and riotously funny buddy flicks to keep you glued to those cushy theater seats all summer long.

This year’s summer blockbusters are an explosive list of long awaited, action packed, sequels and prequels to some of the biggest and baddest movies to ever hit the silver screen. Moviegoers will also be introduced to a whole new set of heroes, villains and fantastic worlds with exhilarating franchise premieres. The demigods, dragons, alien robots, and super heroes in these summer flicks are sure to draw movie lovers in droves and blow up the box office.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

There is apparently no end in sight for Transformers. Die hard fans flock to each new big budget installment of the sci-fi action movie franchise with little regard for bad reviews or plot complexity. Why? Because we love to see giant alien robots tearing each other to pieces in an avalanche of CGI action sequences. Director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg deliver the goods yet again with Transformers: Age of Extinction. The fourth installment stars Mark Wahlberg as “Cade Yeager” a mechanic who discovers the remains of Autobot leader “Optimus Prime” years after a climactic battle between the friendly Autobots and the evil Decepticons.

The story picks up in the aftermath of the conflict that has left major cities decimated. Resentment between humans and the sentient machines has given way to backlash against Autobots who leave the Earth as result. In their absence, covert government operatives secretly reverse engineer transformers unwittingly prompting the return of both Autobots and Decepticons for an epic global showdown. Transformers: Age of Extinction introduces a new yet familiar transformer, the Dinobots. With Wahlberg’s proven status as a solid action hero, and the addition of the Dinobots, Transformers: Age of Extinction is a “must see” for fans.

Earth to Echo (July 2)

This heart warming, family-friendly fantasy adventure stars newcomers, Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, and X-Factor’s prodigal child rapper, Astro, as four friends who receive an unusual signal on their cellphones from a mysterious source. The kids set off on a search to locate the signals origin and are surprised when they discover that it was transmitted by tiny, adorable, robotic extraterrestrial that has become stranded on Earth.

The childhood friends bond as they embark on a fearless journey to protect the small owl-like alien and help him get back to his home planet. With all the tear jerking drama of Steven Spielberg’s cinematic classic, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, and the lovable charm of Disney’s WALL-E, Earth to Echo will easily capture the hearts and imaginations of fantasy film fans.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)

All out war breaks out between genetically evolved apes and a thinned out populace of human beings in San Fransisco. Human beings survived an outbreak of a virus that reduced their population while “Caesar,” the chimpanzee who lead the ape rebellion in the film Rise of The Planet of The Apes, and his loyal simian followers thrive in California’s redwoods. The apes are stronger than ever and back with a vengeance as Caesar leads a powerful army of highly evolved chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, into a fierce battle to replace humankind as the dominant species on Earth. Impressive trailers offer a tease of awe-inspiring battle sequences that exhibit the strength and social evolution of the apes. Having learned to speak, Caesar is likely to deliver a much more powerful emotional performance with the help of motion capture technology. The film, directed by Matt Reeves, stars Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis as “Caesar,” Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Judy Greer. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has all the promise of a remarkable cinematic experience.

Lucy (July 25)

The film stars academy award winner Morgan Freeman and actress Scarlett Johansson as “Lucy,” a woman who has been taken captive by drug lords in Taiwan and forced into trafficking. Lucy’s villainous captors forcefully implant a drug shipment into her body and the package accidentally leaks. When the drugs enter her system, Lucy slowly gains use of her entire brain and is transformed into a superhuman with special powers. The film features Scarlett Johansson as an ass-kicking, fierce femme, that mercilessly fights her way out of lockdown and ballistic on her captors. Writer/Director, Luc Besson’s repertoire of sci-fi action thrillers includes other notable iconic female heroines such as The Fifth Element’s “Leelo” (Mila Jovovich) and La Femme Nikita’s “Nikita” (Peta Wilson). Johansson’s fight scenes look bad-ass and the actress definitely holds her own as an action hero.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug. 8)

Megan Fox, Whoopie Goldberg, Will Arnett and Johnny Knoxville star in director Jonathan Liebesman’s 2014 reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael look better than ever thanks to technological advances in special effects. The first ever Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, released in 1990, featured live actors in goofy suits but it spawned three sequels before the 2007 animated CGI version, TMNT, gave fans a truer taste of turtle power . With today’s motion capture technology, Leibesman’s Ninja Turtles are by far the best looking Ninja Turtles to date. The turtles’ personalities, and the plot, remain true to the original mythology of the comic and cartoon. In the film, the turtles’ rise up from the sewers to take down their nemesis, the evil Shredder, who has full control of New York City. The turtles elicit the help of news reporter, “April O’Neil” (Fox) and her camera man, Vernon Fenwick (Arnett). Fans have long awaited a visually spectacular live action version of their beloved heroes in a half shell. With Michael Bay as producer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is sure to serve up magnificent martial arts fights, high flying rooftop hops and the quirky turtle humor that hardcore fans will be expecting.

The Giver (Aug. 15)

Dystopian teen drama is in high demand and with the success of films like,The Hunger Games, fans of the post-apocalyptic genre are sure to dig this film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s award winning novel, The Giver. Set in a bleak colorless future, The Giver tells the story of a teenage boy, “Jonas” (Brenton Thwaites) who resides in a seemingly utopian society devoid of the conflict, pain and suffering known as the human condition. Social and physical boundaries insulate the communities and the whole of human history has been repressed. Only one person knows the truth and is the keeper of all knowledge regarding human history, “The Giver,” played by Jeff Bridges. When Jonas is delegated to be the receiver of memory, he meets “The Giver” who imparts a whole other dimension of human life. Jonas becomes caught between the safety of his life in the emotionally sterile community and the challenges of free will and danger that lie beyond the boundaries in a place called “elsewhere.” The star studded cast also includes, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Alexander Skarsgård and Katie Holmes.

Hercules (July 25)

Duane (The Rock) Johnson stars in Hercules, director Brett Ratner’s action packed film adaptation of the graphic novel, Hercules: The Thracian Wars. The son of Zeus is tested by King of Thrace, who calls forth on the demigod, after his completion of the twelve labors, to help him overthrow a threatening warlord. Those who are familiar with of Greek mythos will be pleased to find that legendary creatures such as the three headed canine Cerberus and the nine headed Lernaean Hydra make an appearance in the film. The cast also includes Academy Award winner, John Hurt, as the good-natured King “Cotys” and Russian beauty Irina Shayk as his daughter, “Megara.” Johnson is a megalithic man whose portrayal of Hercules is reminiscent of Arnold Shwarzenegger’s “Conan The Barbarian.” The former wrestler has the bulk and screen presence to turn this his performance as Hercules into memorable movie magic.

Tammy (July 2)

Melissa McCarthy, Dan Akroyd and Susan Sarandon star in Tammy an original comedy penned by Ben Falcone (Bridemaids) and Melissa McCarthy (The Heat). The crass and portly titular character, Tammy, falls on hard times after losing her job and discovering that her husband has been cheating on her. After robbing a fast food restaurant, Tammy takes off on a road trip with her tough-talking, alcoholic grandmother, “Pearl” (Sarandon). McCarthy fans who loved the hilarious and unshakeable, “Megan” from Bridesmaids will likely get a load of gut bustin’ giggles out of Tammy.

22 Jump Street (June 13)

Johan Hill and Channing Tatum are back as “Schmidt” and “Jenko” in the hilarious action comedy sequel to the 2012 buddy pic, 21 Jump Street. After they fail in their pursuit of group of drug dealers, the officers are reassigned to the undercover narcotics program run by Captain Dickinson (Ice Cube). This time around, the duo goes undercover as college students. The trappings of college life are all too tempting as “Jenko” quickly becomes acquainted with jocks and “Shmidt,” befriends a female art student. Campus politics result in a rift between the two officers who are supposed to be investigating a drug supplier named “WHYFY.” Wild chases, gun fights, mayhem and comedic madness ensue in 22 Jump Street.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)

The DreamWorks computer animated comedy action sequel to How to Train Your Dragon takes a much older “Hiccup,” and his loyal dragon “Toothless,” on another heroic Viking adventure. The two are faced with the challenge of protecting the future of men, and dragons, when they face off with a villainous conqueror named Drago Bludvist. Hiccup and Toothless must stop Drago from taking control of all dragons and taking over the world. The second installment of the successful computer animated franchise takes its characters to different locales and introduces new dragon species. America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Gerard Bulter, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and Cate Blanchett round out this talented all-star cast.

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